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Te Tairāwhiti plays its part in Māori Language Moment

MORE than one million New Zealanders signed up for today’s Te Taura Whiri Te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission) digital Māori Language Moment.

Around 820 of those were from Tairāwhiti.

Māori Language Moment encouraged people to get together at noon today and “take a moment for te Reo Māori, whether it be using Māori words in a conversation, singing a song or performing a Māori-related skit — and recording it digitally to send to the Commission.

Māori Language Commission chief executive Ngahiwi Apanui said Māori Language Moment was started last year to gather the nation together and say “we value our indigenous language”.

“We also mark the moment the (Maori language) petition was presented to Parliament in 1972 (supporting the teaching of Māori language and culture in schools). This is about coming together to reflect on our past, acknowledge where we are now and prepare for our shared future.”

Mr Apanui said this year’s Māori Language Moment was dedicated to Auckland residents who were the most affected by the Covid-19 Delta outbreak and had to remain in Alert Level 4 lockdown for at least another week.

Mr Apanui said the language was still endangered but “winning it back wasn’t a sprint, it was a marathon”.

“Beating Covid is also about the long game, it’s about endurance. Kia kaha Tāmaki! Kia kaha Aotearoa!”

Mr Apanui said they wanted to set the world record for people speaking and celebrating an endangered, indigenous language all at the same time.

“Last year more than one million people joined us for our Māori Language Moment. This year we want to see two million of us gathered together.”

“In spite of Covid-19, the momentum behind te reo this year has been massive. The total number of people who have pledged to celebrate te reo since the Commission began the online campaign a year ago now stands at 1.07 million.

Māori Language Commissioner Professor Rawinia Higgins — in a tribute to Aucklanders as well as essential workers and volunteers across Aotearoa — said New Zealanders were showing the rest of the world what kind of people they were.

“He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata. He tangata. He tangata.

“What is the most important thing in the world? It is people. It is people. It is people.”

The Māori Language Moment was recognised globally last year as a leading initiative. It won eight golds at the annual United Nations-endorsed International Public Relations Association Golden World Awards in London.

In February, Professor Higgins was elected to the UN Global Taskforce for the Decade of Indigenous Languages that starts next year.

The Commission encouraged all supporters of te reo Māori to celebrate the language in some way from wherever they were at midday.

The video of the Māori Language Moment 2021 will be available to view online on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tewikiotereoMāori and Youtube at www.youtube.com/reoMāori

Mount Hikurangi
Waimata River